A more accurate title could be “F1 Turned Upside Down”. There is no way that anyone can analyze the testing times from this week at Jerez without being shocked that Rubens broke the track record in a Brawn car, clearing the rest of the field by a half second. In the two weeks that Brawn has been on track, they have put up competitive times across the board.
Where is this pace coming from? This car is fresh out of the box from a team that most didn’t even think would make it to the track this season, if not beyond. Regardless, this car has been in development since 2007 as it became common knowledge throughout the paddock last year that Honda was developing a car for 2009 at the expense of the 2008 season with Ross Brawn at the design helm.
One can only wonder if Honda is reconsidering their decision to sell their former F1 team, or if they have an option to buy back the team at a later date.
Legitimate questions about fuel loads and ballast are now being asked, but Brawn’s competitors seem to be forming a consensus that their pace is for real. Alonso and Massa have both expressed this sentiment, with Massa outright admitting that Ferrari can’t match this staggering pace from the upstart.
All this can only be helpful for a new team that is valiantly attempting to sign sponsors in the current economic environment.
At the same time, McLaren have reportedly had emergency meeting to discuss their apparent lack of pace, which is only being highlighted by the fact that they are currently 2 seconds slower than the Brawn car, even though they supply Brawn with a Mercedes engine. This all, despite their latest updates on the front of the car.
All told, next weeks final test session at Jerez should be telling. Ferrari and McLaren have both been upstaged by a potentialy competitive upstart. But the true pace of these cars won’t really be known until Q3 is over at Melbourne. Sandbagging is an art form in F1, and none are more masterful at its use than a certain team from Maranello.